Authors: Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Publisher: W.M. Morrow
Pages*: 207 (readable), 242 (actual)
*Anything past page 207 is just about citing sources and the index section.
Genre: Non-Fiction(?), Observational, Existential
This isn’t exactly non-fiction in the sense that it’s the opinion of the two authors on things. The authors formula is to simply take seemingly mundane topics like education and religion and put in their unique spin on it. Hence the cover features an apple with a slice taken out of it only to reveal that at the inside it’s an orange. The book is structured in a way that you don’t have to read all of it; you can easily pick and choose which chapters you’d like to read. In the version I got (which I assume goes for all physical copies); the table of contents even gives you a brief description of each chapter. It is extremely compartmentalized, meaning that each chapter stands alone and there isn’t any reference to earlier chapters later on.
Even at their most absurd such as comparing the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to School Teachers (yes this is a real chapter), they manage to make a very plausible argument. They were pointing out how people in power whose purpose is to “educate” can be dangerous; though in all honesty anyone in power has a chance to be dangerous. But it’s chapters like those that seem a little forced in the sense that they go for the ‘shock’ element to entice the reader. In the end though they always make a decent argument, it seems like they’re trying too hard to be “shocking”.
What I Liked
I’m a fan of making obscure connections in real life and watching/ reading others make obscure connections is quite interesting. I love seeing how they get from “point A” to “point B”. I’m a fan of seeing how others think, especially educated people making valid points. While I didn’t agree with all the points made in the book, but because they were made coherently and intelligently it was still rather interesting to read and a rather quick one at that too.
The Follow Up
The authors tried following up this book with “Super Freakonomics”, but it wasn’t as good. The problem is that if you have something unique like they did with the first book, the same element of surprise and novelty isn’t there the second time around. The connections and their now stale viewpoints read rather forced this time around. While I never actually finished the second one, what I read of it was rather unimpressive. For me, reading is quite a chore. It takes too much time to be allotted with usually little if any reward. So if I’m not hooked in the beginning then the likelihood of me carrying on with it is low. The books that I’m drawn to are these types of opinionated books since fiction seems to become boring as you get older.
Carlina Yepinski is the primary researcher and writer for Network Monitoring. Her most recent accomplishments include graduating from Kentucky State with a degree in communications and computer science. Her current focus for the site involves a free network traffic monitor.